Legislators Target Bridge Commission
State reps Freeman, Emrick want to give governor more power over DRJTBC in light of rate hike.
Two of Northampton County’s state representatives say they want Pennsylvania to have more authority over the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.
Prompted by the commission’s recent rate hike, Rep. Joe Emrick, R-137 and Rep. Bob Freeman, D-136, are introducing bills that would, as Freeman said, bring “transparency and accountability” to the DRJTBC.
One bill would require Pennsylvania’s Auditor General – and his New Jersey counterpart --to audit the commission’s finance and management every year.
The other would give the governor the power to veto actions by the Pennsylvania members of the commission, something New Jersey legislators have already allowed their governor to do.
"This agency has to have a kind of accountability brought to it," Freeman said Thursday morning at a news conference at Emrick's office in Mount Bethel. "The key here is transparency."
The bridge commission raised its tolls in July from 75 cents to $1.
"The Commission needs the toll adjustment to meet debt-service obligations, prevent a credit-rating downgrade that could drive up borrowing costs, and provide the financial support for further capital projects that will further improve the agency's transportation infrastructure, reduce traffic congestion, and enhance customer service," the DRJTBC wrote in a message on its website.
The toll increase has prompted responses from other local officials as well, such as Northampton County Council, which passed a resolution in May calling for the commission to be disbanded.